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The Stonewall Uprising 50 years of LGBT history

The Stonewall Uprising 50 years of LGBT history

The Stonewall Uprising 50 years of LGBT history

The Stonewall Uprising 50 Years of LGBT History: 50 years ago, an uprising took place at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. As it was raided by police in the early hours, three nights of unrest followed, with LGBT people, long frustrated by police brutality, finally fighting back.

Lesbians and trans women of color were among the key people involved in the act of resistance, including Stormé DeLarverie, Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. This anniversary is a reminder of the power of standing united in the face of those who seek to divide us.

The Stonewall Uprising 50 years of LGBT history


The Stonewall Uprising took place in the context of broader civil rights movements. The Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention of 1970 was a key moment in which activists from the Black Power, feminist and gay liberation movements came together, made common cause and learned from each other.

The Gay Liberation Front was the main organization that emerged from the uprising and these larger movements. The GLF first formed in the United States and was part of initial discussions to create the first Pride, which took place on June 28, 1970 in New York City, a year after the Stonewall Riots – then called Christopher Street Day Parade.

The Stonewall Uprising 50 years of LGBT history

Some British activists were involved in some of these key moments in the American movement, and they returned to Britain to form a British chapter of the Gay Liberation Front, meeting for the first time at the LSE Library in October 1970, with the first UK Gay Pride Rally taking place a few years later on July 1, 1972, in London.

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In the UK, sexual acts between men were partially decriminalized in 1967, but there was enormous persecution of gay and bi men thereafter. The campaign at the time was primarily led by the Homosexual Law Reform Society.

The 1970s were characterized by radical grassroots and community activism and support. There were many splinter groups from the Gay Liberation Front. Other community initiatives that emerged from the 1970s include Gay News (established in 1972),  Switchboard  (1974), and Gay’s the Word Bookstore (1979).

The Stonewall Uprising 50 years of LGBT history

The AIDS crisis dominated the 1980s for the LGBT community, first coming to public attention in 1981 when the first person died of an AIDS-related illness. A year later, a man named Terry Higgins was among the first known people to die of an AIDS-related illness in the UK: the Terrence Higgins Trust was established in his name.

The prevalence of AIDS was higher in the United States than in the United Kingdom. But in both countries there was a real lack of political and service support for people living with HIV/AIDS, which led to a huge emphasis on community activism and support. Lesbians and bi women provided essential support to gay and bi men during this time. Act Up was the main campaign group focused on addressing the lack of political and health support for people living with HIV/AIDS.

The LGBT community was politically and socially stigmatized throughout the 1980s, creating the hostile political environment that allowed Section 28 to be passed into law. This legislation effectively stopped teachers from talking about same-sex relationships in schools, forcing them back into the closet or quitting their jobs and scarring a generation of LGBT people.

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Fighting this discrimination in the UK, 20 years after the uprising that’s why stonewall is created

On September 11, 1988, at a meeting held at Sir Ian McKellen’s house in Limehouse, the fundamental objectives were set out in a document called the Second Limehouse Declaration. Limehouse’s first declaration, announcing the launch of the Social Democratic Party, had been signed in the house next door.

On May 24, 1989, the new band sent out a press release to the LGBT press announcing the formation of the band Stonewall.

Over the past 30 years, we have made a big difference in the lives of LGBT people around the world. In the UK, the LGBT movement won the right to work. Parental rights. Partnership rights. An equal age of consent.

Fifty years after the uprising, we have much to celebrate, but there is also much work to be done. We won’t stop until everyone is accepted as they are – no exceptions.

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